The mall culture – and its constant evolution in urban spaces, changing lifestyles and increasing visits to shopping centers, stores and malls has put tremendous pressure on mall managements to keep constantly innovating and optimizing their core functions. Retailers have been appreciating the value of location and similar technologies, that in turn add value to their customers and are not hesitating to take its complete advantage. Even rural areas, tier 2, tier 3 cities are witnessing an upsurge in the demands of experience-seeking-millennials, constantly appreciating value of commercial real estate that results in multi-brand and multi-product shopping under one roof – a culture not largely different from the metro or cosmopolitan cities. It is no denying that the idea was conceptualized in USA; and in India, it manifested only recently – in the 1990s. Coming a relatively long way from there, cities especially have witnessed a kind of ‘revolution’ in terms of how malls have grown exponentially, the core of it being inclusion of technology into its functions both at front end and back end.
“Mall” Culture in India – A Boon By The West
Evolving from shopping centers and large departmental stores, shopping malls give roof and ground to multiple stores and brands, the first “mall” in India was born in Chennai, courtesy Spencer, sometime in the mid-90s. When we talk about the growth of malls in India, it’s not just the ‘number of new malls opening up’ but also the ‘quality of shopping experience’ that each mall has to offer that matters – which only reinstates that technology is a “must-have” for them. The idea was to allow different product retailers to come under one roof and enjoy a collective volumetric footfall and attention of all the visitors; on the other hand, it was intended to add experience to the mundane task of shopping and purchasing and convert it into a family activity. The curiosity of consumers and eagerness of sellers gave birth to the idea of letting the horizons of mall culture expand from cities to rural.
The mall concept came to India during the late 90s and has thrived since then. Rarely have we come across reports of any important mall shutting down; and if statistics are to be believed (like the increasing number of location based apps in use, increasing number of smartphone users in offline shopping, more and more shoppers seeking experience) the future of shopping malls in India looks really bright.
App-timizing The Malls
In this fast paced and a cut-throat competitive world, it is not enough to simply conceptualize malls socially and culturally, but also sustain them technologically. Experts have predicted that due to driving factors like modernization, evolving lifestyles and consumer demands, the brick and mortar will always remain above the waters. In times like these – of high competence – “relevance” becomes the key factor in deciding the fate of the malls or stores. How relevant or useful is a mall in comparison with its competitors will be the basis on which consumers will decide where to throng. Hence, remaining relevant, appropriate and app-driven is the deciding factor for mall (brick-and-mortar) success.
Even though every mall endeavours to build the most enjoyable shopping experience for every patron, there are areas in cities where one would notice malls clustered in a neighbourhood, giving tough competition to one another. It has become imperative for malls to implement technology not just for the sake of consumer experience, but also to improve operational efficiencies; and beacon technology seems to be the easiest and most economical one to implement right away. Beacons will only work in tandem with a supporting application and PinCarts is one such technology partner that provides not just a beacon platform to brick-and-mortar stores but also proximity marketing and retail analytics.
Related post: The Age of App-timizing The Consumer Experience
So, what exactly will beacon analytics show to the mall management that will be very useful and meaningful to them?
Visitor demographics: Beacon data helps to know statistical details about the visitors like: age group, gender, tentative economical capacity, their dwell time inside the mall, what stores did they visit, what coupons did they use and when and so on. Sometimes, demographics can be refined to the level of even recording their choices, preferences, frequently visited stores or even frequently bought items.
What malls can do with this information is: for example a customer (whom beacons profile through their frequent visits to the mall) likes peep-toe-shoes by a certain brand. If that brand has a digital signage displayed elsewhere inside the mall, and that customer passes by, a customized display is flashed on the screen. Not only is this a delight for that shopper, but is also a business conversion for that brand because it will prompt a store visit and a navigation map can be shown instantly on the shopper’s screen. This data will also help the mall understand the usability of such a signage and its placement in accordance with the movement of the shoppers.
Repeat visit demographics with respect to the day of the week is a very valuable data to be able to assess the frequency of visits by regular shoppers and patrons and the purpose of each visit: fashion, entertainment, food or simply explore new arrivals.
New arrival announcement. Beacon analytics can also help capture information about the change in footfall or market basket analysis or even POS analysis immediately after the announcement of new arrivals by a store or stores.
Average duration of their total stay or dwell time. Beacons are constantly connected to smartphones (enabled) even as shoppers move around inside the mall premises; and they can also know when is a consumer exiting the mall or leaving a store. In that case, guessing their average stay time can help malls to optimize engagement with them and provide them with improved experience, guidance or assistance.
Type of shoppers in regards to the time of the day for their visit. Office-goers would usually visit late evenings and house holders or students would normally visit during day time – early noon or mid-day. Displays, offers, and deals can be instantly modified accordingly.
Whether the visit was planned or unplanned. Beacons deployed on the premises of malls frequently push out promos and notifications to passersby, to encourage a store visit. It’s highly likely that some of these people might not have intended to step inside the mall, but due to beacon prompt, they did so. This analytics will help accurately measure the difference in footfall before and after installing beacons.
Analyze visitor traffic with respect to the stores within the mall. Beacon information will gather footfall data from each store situated inside the mall and analyze the same, to help in understanding the placement of each of the stores within the mall. Combining the heat map of each floor or area with beacon data about dwell time of shoppers inside each store, mall managers can arrive at conclusion regarding layout and placing of stores that draw large crowds and those that lack shoppers’ attention. Thereby, beacon analytics can help optimize the floor space in malls, rent out unoccupied stores and enjoy a consistent revenue.
Market basket analytics: With this data, typical buying or interest patterns of consumers can be understood; for example, some stores can also use cross sell strategies and push out recommendations to shoppers as it has been observed that at least 30% of sales happen via recommendations. Not only that, by gathering this data, product displays or placement can be optimized to make it convenient for shoppers.
POS Analytics: This data will help malls to understand typical spend nature or patterns amongst different sections of shoppers. This will be very useful for stores inside malls to not only manage their pricing, but also optimize aisles, sections and displays and better manage floor inventories. Also, transactions happening exclusively through PinCarts will be captured by the PinCarts beacons to clearly segregate shoppers thereby.
Consumer movement analytics to optimize display, and also allow merchants to evaluate their own marketing campaigns with respect to visitor traffic, beacon notifications and sales seasons.
All of the above analysis metrics combined together also allow merchants and mall management to compare these with regards to emerging retail trends, changing consumer patterns (elsewhere) and then align their strategies accordingly.
Shopping Malls Need To Stay Relevant, Drive Growth & Boost Efficiency
Over and above all, in today’s times, brick and mortar stores need this if they really want to rise above the rest: create and sustain relevancy. Malls have really begun to see and realize the value behind these technologies, like the one PinCarts is going to empower their retail partners with. As long as there is relevancy, that shoppers see as valuable, there is personalization (via beacons) and there is value for money, malls will continue to leverage technology and thrive and shopaholics will continue to enjoy an augmented experience.